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VMblog Expert Interview: Forward Networks Helps Goldman Sachs with Network Scaling and Management

interview forward networks maccioni

Recently, Goldman Sachs turned to outside solutions to help provide answers to their struggles with scaling a network management solution. They looked to Forward Networks for that solution. To learn more, VMblog spoke with Fabrizio Maccioni, Director of Technical Marketing at Forward Networks, Inc.

VMblog:  Can you tell me about the news that Forward Networks is working with Goldman Sachs?

Fabrizio Maccioni:  We publicized our case study recently that Goldman Sachs selected our Forward Enterprise offering as its sole network verification and automation platform of choice for its entire network. This huge implementation has made a significant difference in the way that Goldman Sachs manages its network infrastructure, which you can imagine is quite complex.

The Goldman Sachs network is comprised of 15,000 switches, routers, firewalls and more from various vendors that all must function in accordance with strict security and network management compliance. As a vendor-agnostic solution, Forward Enterprise easily integrated and scaled to meet the requirements needed to support such a demanding network.

VMblog:  It seems like Forward Enterprise truly made a difference for Goldman Sachs. Can you talk more about this technology and how it works?

Maccioni:  Forward Enterprise is a highly scalable solution that enterprises can use to manage their complex networks. Once integrated into a network, the platform creates a "digital twin" or software model replica of the network, which IT teams can then use to analyze its behavior.

Forward Enterprise has the ability to trace, index and store collected data from each device connected to the real network. This enables it to monitor for end-to-end behavior, verify the network's forwarding behavior and security posture, and test out configuration changes. It's a revolutionary approach to analyzing and troubleshooting complex network issues that puts zero strain or downtime on the real network itself.

Overall, the platform helps enterprises build a more reliable network that encounters reduced outages, mitigating potential risks significantly.

VMblog:  Its scalability sounds fantastic. How has this function worked within Goldman Sachs's network of over 15,000 devices?

Maccioni:  Our implementation with Goldman Sachs actually helped us develop and fine-tune our Forward Enterprise offering. We had never tested it on such a large and complex network before.

Prior to Forward Networks, Goldman Sachs had worked for years to develop tools that could effectively map, verify and automate their network operations, without success. The lab-based tools that they designed and implemented were deemed to be un-scalable and impossible to maintain. This was the reason that they sought external expertise.

Most of the challenges that the network team faced were comprehensive path search, visualization/diagramming, and network readiness for application rollouts, and, after a four-month test period, Forward Enterprise proved to be fully scalable to all 15,000+ devices.

This was when we knew that our solution could scale regardless of the number of network devices. Today it has been built out and tested to be capable of supporting networks of over 40,000 devices.

VMblog:  Goldman Sachs is an investor in Forward Networks. Did the implementation of Forward Enterprise lead them to become an investor?

Maccioni:  Yes, Goldman Sachs was initially a customer. However, our solution made such a positive impact to their network team's workload and ability to manage network infrastructure that they decided to invest in our company. Goldman Sachs ended up leading our $35 million Series C funding round in October of 2019.

VMblog:  Your partnership with Goldman Sachs demonstrates a unique opportunity for other larger companies looking to more easily manage their network infrastructure. Can you tell me more about how this technology differentiates itself in the market?

Maccioni:  Forward Enterprise is the only intent-based networking solution on the market today that builds a software replica of a network by using a proprietary mathematical model, developed by our founders. It creates a comprehensive view of the network that can be analyzed and scaled to meet the needs if IT teams.

Forward Enterprise provides a critical solution for mitigating risks; it automatically solves for operational issues within the network to find problems before they become issues. Most complex networks are vulnerable to human error. One misconfiguration or mistake can cause disasters for the network and the businesses that rely on it. The ability to test out network changes and configurations on a perfect virtual model of the network allows enterprises to identify issues ahead of time and avoid such mistakes. The value of this function is immense.

VMblog:  How did Forward Networks come to develop such an innovative product?

Maccioni:  The Forward Networks founders saw deficiencies in network operations, such as complexity, human error and legacy systems. All of these pose real challenges to secure, scalable, automated, and compliant network management - especially as enterprise networks are growing exponentially more complicated.

As four Ph.D. graduates from Stanford, the founding team spent their careers working to improve networking, and Forward Networks' Forward Enterprise was their solution for the market. By developing a unique mathematical model, they ensured that users would have access to an always-accurate software copy of the network that could be used to perform comprehensive and definitive analysis of network implementations and behavior.

VMblog:  Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Maccioni:  I think it's important to recognize that Forward Enterprise is the only network verification solution on the market that operates across all major networking vendors and services at scale, including multi-cloud environments.

It was designed to empower engineers and operators to easily manage their network infrastructure, including the ability to visualize and search massive networks, debug configuration problems, query network-wide policy implementations, predict network behavior, and verify intent prior to deploying changes - all to mitigate risks.

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Published Thursday, November 19, 2020 7:41 AM by David Marshall
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